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Ventricular tachycardia


Ventricular tachycardia (VT) is a rapid heartbeat that starts in the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles).

Alternative Names:

Wide-complex tachycardia; V tach; Tachycardia - ventricular


You may have symptoms if the heart rate during a ventricular tachycardia episode is very fast or lasts longer than a few seconds. Symptoms may include:

Symptoms may start and stop suddenly. In some cases, there are no symptoms.

Exams and Tests:

The health care provider will look for:

  • Absent pulse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Normal or low blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse

Tests that may be used to detect ventricular tachycardia include:

You may also have blood chemistries and other tests.

Outlook (Prognosis):

The outcome depends on the heart condition and symptoms.

Possible Complications:

Ventricular tachycardia may not cause symptoms in some people. However, it can be deadly. It is a major cause of sudden cardiac death.

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have a rapid, irregular pulse; faint, or have chest pain. All of these may be signs of ventricular tachycardia.


The disorder cannot be prevented in some cases. In other cases, it can be prevented by treating heart problems and avoiding certain medicines.


Olgin JE, Zipes DP. Specific Arrhythmias: Diagnosis and Treatment. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 39.

Tracy CM, Epstein AE, Darbar D, et al. 2012 ACCF/AHA/HRS Focused Update of the 2008 Guidelines for Device-Based Therapy of Cardiac Rhythm Abnormalities: A Report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012;60(14):1297-1313.

Review Date: 5/13/2014
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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